There comes a time in every young pop star's life cycle when he/she feels the need drop all pretense of normalcy and let his/her freak flag fly.
Madonna pioneered this long-standing tradition by taking up a faux-British accent and practicing Kabbalah. Britney Spears upped the ante by marrying a white trash dancer and shaving off all her hair. Over the last couple weeks it's started to seem like Rihanna's time may have arrived.
First came the "What's My Name" singer's suspect decision to collaborate with ex-boyfriend and abuser, Chris Brown. Then came all the scandalous photos of them buddyining around in public as if he never beat her within an inch of her life.
Then came the incredibly classy twitter feud with Brown's current girlfriend, Karrueche Tran. Now, Rihanna seems to be following pop-star-crazy-town protocol by posting topless pictures of herself taken during her latest music video photo shoot.
Whatever you think about Rihanna's decision to work with Chris Brown, that choice was at least artistically defensible. Brown is a troubled guy, but a talented musician. If she had recorded the tracks and moved on with her career, the media probably would have let the whole thing die.
The topless pictures can likewise be forgiven as a well-intentioned publicity stunt to promote her forthcoming single.
But the whole Karrueche Tran debacle is another matter altogether. This is by far the most troubling incident we've seen from the 24-year-old singer.
A little background: Karrueche Tran is Chris Brown's current girlfriend. She seemed to take a little bit of an issue with her boy toy running around and "recording songs" with his ex, so she took to Twitter and posted this barely comprehensible rant:
"I'm Angeline (sic), you're Jen. C'mon you see where Brad is at."
Ouch. The typo doesn't take any of the sting out of that one. Or does it?
Rihanna took the high road by posting a bag of rice cakes wearing sunglasses on her twitter feed - a thinly-veiled racist assault on the Asian Tran.
"Ima make u my bitch," she eloquently captioned.
Adding insult to injury, the caption is actually a line taken from one of Rihanna's songs that she and Brown recorded a sexually charged remix to shortly before this latest episode.
Brown has stayed admirably quiet throughout the whole mess. A rep for the 22-year-old R&B crooner told Us Weekly that, "He and Rihanna are just friends. He's not cheating."
Whatever the truth may be, Rihanna has certainly conducted herself with a distinct lack of class. Whether or not she's truly coo-coo for cocoa puffs only time will tell. I just hope someone keeps her away from the hair clippers.
Of course, when asked about Chris Brown, Rihanna's father said he was a "nice guy." Perhaps that says it all.